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Up Topic General / General / State of the project
- - By ShaiShap Date 2022-01-13 13:34
Hello everyone, I'm in the process of launching a new blog about FOSS games, and I'm trying to get some idea of the status and future plans of some of the most mature FOSS game projects (starting with side-scrolling games as a pilot). I see in the previous ("Are you still there") thread in this forum that the OpenClonk development has probably seen better days, but that there are still people who might be interested in working on it if given enough motivation. Is that still the case? I'd love if anyone still involved can help me understand a few things:

1. Is there any accepted roadmap of what future development of OpenClonk should include? The version number 8.1 is a bit confusing, for most FOSS games I see a version less than 1 and ask what would it take to complete it, but if you're in version 8.1 - do you consider the game complete? Otherwise, do you have any idea of what would it take to complete it? Or do you see it as an eternally progressing project that should never really be out of development?

2. Is there anything that could be done to restart some development in this game? Maybe if some renewed interest and requests from [new] players comes up?

3. Since the project is already far more advanced than almost every other FOSS game project, would you like to share some details and tips about how it worked so well so far? I think I heard that this was originally a commercial project that got open sourced? (your homepage has an "about" link that promises to talk about the project history, but it leads to a wiki that appears to be broken).

Just to add - personally I have not heard about OpenClonk until starting to do the research for my upcoming blog, and I was quite surprised when I saw it, it looks really good (at least from the little I've played so far, mostly the tutorials). I think there can still be a bright future ahead for it.
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Parent - By Zapper Date 2022-01-13 14:54
Heyo ShaiShap,

I don't think we as a team have a personal stance on these points, but here is my personal opinion:

>The version number 8.1 is a bit confusing, for most FOSS games I see a version less than 1 and ask what would it take to complete it, but if you're in version 8.1 - do you consider the game complete? Otherwise, do you have any idea of what would it take to complete it? Or do you see it as an eternally progressing project that should never really be out of development?


We tried making every major version release as "complete" as possible. So, for example for the first version we did not try to get everything we have in the game now to, say, 10% but instead we focused on a single thing (in this case: melee combat) and tried to make that already as polished and playable as we could. For every major release we also tried to playtest through all the scenarios to catch as many bugs as we could.
So, in a sense, every version should feel like a complete game. Even, if of course we would add more content later.

In a sense that helped us now. Because even if development pretty much died over the last years, we still have a playable game here. That's a way greater achievement than stopping development on a game that has a lot more content but everything is at 80% completion :)

(Even if, of course, a lot more could in theory be added to OpenClonk to increase the replayability).

>1. Is there any accepted roadmap of what future development of OpenClonk should include?


There are some ideas floating around in the forums and the bugtracker target 9.0 is probably also populated a bit but there is no official strict plan.

>2. Is there anything that could be done to restart some development in this game? Maybe if some renewed interest and requests from [new] players comes up?


That's a tough question. Most of the old developers who started the project were already involved in the old Clonk series before it became OpenClonk. And most of these people are probably in a new phase of their lives by now :)
I think the only way to fuel the development again is if a hand full of people decide they want to commit time to the project, construct a roadmap and then start. I am not sure who those people would be, though, and I am also not sure how much I would e.g. see myself among them. Note that this group would need a diverse skillset of 3d modelling / art, scripting and C++ coding.

>3. Since the project is already far more advanced than almost every other FOSS game project, would you like to share some details and tips about how it worked so well so far?


We started the project after RedWolf Design gave up development on ClonkRage (or, its successor). Most of the original team was already involved in Clonk by that time and had spent a good part of their youth playing and developing for that game.
We were really a lot of people (10+ I think?) who already knew the game well, knew the codebase and shared a good bit of nostalgia even then already. Additionally, we did not have to start from scratch but had at least some major parts of the engine we could reuse.
We could also meet in person more than once in the beginning of the project since most of the original team lived in or close to Germany.

PS: A tip would be: Even if you have a grand vision of the project, take a smaller part that is already playable. Tackle, polish and release it as a playable game. You can still add more stuff later but having actual releases definitely helps for the morale :)
Parent - By Clonkonaut Date 2022-01-13 15:40 Edited 2022-01-15 13:42
Hello there!

Thanks for the info about the wiki. I have forwarded this to Luchs and hopefully, the Wiki will be up again soon. In the meantime, the Wikipedia article might you more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clonk

1. I would not consider the game complete in the sense that we had more plans and, I believe, a shared idea of how the game ultimately should look like based on how its predecessors were. The Clonk gaming series was always in development during its time and reflected the continued progress the community put into the game. We had a similar vision. But while before OpenClonk, there were many Clonk titles (more on that later), we wanted to just have one game that continuously moved forward and along its community, incorporating what the community contributed to the game. To understand this, one has to know that a cornerstone of what made Clonk special was its easily accessible development part. Starting with the fifth installment (Clonk Planet), the game always incorporated an easy-to-use editor to make your own levels (scenarios) or other content packs. Central to this was the website https://ccan.de (content is mostly in German) where player-made addons could be uploaded.
The versioning is a bit odd, that is true. I think that is a historical thing of how Clonk version numbers worked. We considered each full number a major version, so we had 8 of those. Even though, version 1.0 did not include everything that we ultimately planned for the game.
Completing the game in the sense of what we wanted to achieve is a big task. Of course, if anyone was to pick up development where we left it, they wouldn't be bound by our vision.

2. Restarting the development is a matter of time available. All of us simply grew old (yikes) and had families and stuff to do. While we still share the dream of developing the game further, it is completely uncertain as of yet and there is zero active development. A huge problem was a lack in playerbase. If you don't know that you do what you do for someone out there, it is hard to maintain motivation to do it. Unfortunately, the creation of OpenClonk itself caused a rift in the community that continued during its lifetime, leaving people angry and unwilling to give this new approach a chance. While we did get new players into the game, we lost quite a few of the older ones who simply stayed with the previous game. Hooking new developers and designers into the game is a completely different affair though. That was always tough and will be tougher still. The Clonk engine is an independently written tool that predates popular game development softwares like Unity or Unreal (at least in its accessible form today). So almost nothing you've learned when working on the most popular tools around can be applied in OpenClonk. The code, written by mostly the same bunch of people over 20 years, has its quirks and sometimes lacks proper documentation, making it harder to get into it. Developing content is easier to do since there is a simple and approachable scripting language in the game that the engine interprets (in theory, it is well documented but the documentation is down as well but can be read from the source files: https://github.com/openclonk/openclonk/tree/master/docs). With this, one develops all the objects in the game, like the Clonk itself, all the animals, little things to throw around, all tools, buildings etc. - the tedious part, however, is creating suitable graphics. OpenClonk was the first Clonk game that had fully 3D graphic parts. To not have to write a 3D engine by ourselves, we included the OGRE graphics engine. At the times, this was a promising project and support readily available. Sadly, we quickly learned that creating working 3D models wasn't as easy a process as we'd hoped and that people pretty much only could use Blender to model. This excluded people from contributing who favoured other modelling softwares. You might have noticed that some of the ingame graphics are a bit wonky or simply don't have a consistent style. Getting graphics for the game was one of the biggest challenges for us.

3. The previous Clonk games are still around and can be found here: http://clonk.de/index.php?lng=en (although the English language support might not be that nice)
They have since become Freeware games but weren't at the time we started developing OpenClonk (2009/2010). So yes, we began an open source project based on a commercial gaming series. We came to an agreement with the rights holder, Matthes Bender, who himself had to drop out of the development for personal reasons (most of us were part of the development team on the previous games). You might notice that the visual style of the previous games is, for one thing, way more polished and unified but also different from OpenClonk. This is because part of the agreement was that we couldn't use content from the previous Clonk games and had only the engine code to go with. The previous titles also only ever featured 2D sprite graphics, despite many of those having been rendered from 3D models. Part of what didn't work out as planned was the jump from those models for rendering 2D images to fully real-time 3D rendering which was much more challenging for the artists and heavily impacted our supply of graphics. We also learned that change always comes with resistance. I already mentioned the rift in the community. OpenClonk had a rough start, with many people from the community angry about the changes to a game they loved for years. Throwing away much of the content of the older games wasn't a popular choice (even if it wasn't exactly ours). The brand recognition, if you will, of Clonk was so prominent that the biggest criticism we received from the older community was that OpenClonk simply was "un-clonky" - something you can't really fight against. Our decision to make Clonk more international by switching the developing communication language from German to English was also frowned upon.

So, if I were to give lessons learned to anyone willing to listen, it would be:

Changing core concepts of your game or software will always alienate people from it as they have grown accustomed to very specific parts of it. Best described in this xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1172/. When implementing big changes, always consider pros and cons by factoring in loss of community. I have seen other Indie game projects since that suffered from a similar problem that we had: each and every major version changing the game so much that people are simply not longer interested in playing.

Communicate a decision making process to the outside. We always had a laissaz faire style development practice: whoever does the work will get their stuff into the game - there wasn't a single person or a committee of people who decided things. This resulted in some irritation for newcomers, however. When new people came by with contributions, they sometimes saw a discussion growing around whether the change was good or bad and what should be done. Some people grew frustrated by what seemed to them like a development team that was always bickering while we actually were just discussing the development process.

---

I will also give a slight shoutout to the competing project LegacyClonk. After Clonk Rage became Freeware and the source code available, people from the old community started continuing development on the older Clonk game and are doing so still. Though it is only available through a German community website (https://forum.clonkspot.org/t/legacyclonk-349-ist-da-community-update-fuer-clonk-rage/1364). English support can only be obtained by joining the Clonk Games Discord server and talking to people there.
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Parent - - By ShaiShap Date 2022-01-14 16:41
Thank you both! Super informative and interesting. Sounds like it's going to be a challenge, but I'll definitely look into this more and see what can be done. In case there will be interest in new people getting involved in developing the game, is there any of you who has knowledge of the code and who would be willing to give some support to onboard people into the project? Just to be available to quickly help with any questions that docs are not good at answering?
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Parent - By Clonkonaut Date 2022-01-15 13:41
This forum is the best place to ask. There also is an IRC channel #openclonk-dev on the euIRC but the state at which we're at, answering times in the forum will probably be better. Also, I wouldn't want to force new people into IRC in this day and age.
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Up Topic General / General / State of the project

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